Merry Christmas {And Mary Christmas}!

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Each passing year comes with new memories, new experiences, and sometimes new traditions to bring into our lives. Often times, these new circumstances flare up the fear within us {fear of change, fear of the unknown, perhaps the fear of failure in the next step in life}.

I approach the new year, 2014, with much excitement and plenty of fear as I anticipate this next chapter of life as I delve deeper into who God has designed me to be as a wife and a stronger woman in Christ. As soon as I get back to LA from visiting my family in Georgia, I will have 3 days to pack my entire life up into brown boxes {no-I haven’t packed ANYTHING yet} and move to my new home {that will be my first home with my husband}. Next, I will be getting married. Lots of planning, organizing, and family coming into town. This is amazing news, exciting, thrilling, wonderful. So why is it that the most incredible news and exhilarating life changes bring me the most anxiety? Am I human? Is something wrong with me?

{Don’t answer that. We will come back to that question later.}

Every year, as Christmas approaches, I try to find a different area of Jesus’ birth story to study and better understand…to grasp on a deeper level and breath it all in as if I were there myself. Just a few months ago, a sweet friend of mine mailed me a copy of “The Women of Christmas” by Liz Curtis Higgs. Reading this book made me feel as if I were right there with those women, and as I completed the study guide at the end of the book, I found myself getting to know Mary in a way I’d never comprehended her before now that I am engaged. As I studied Mary in scripture and in this book, I tried to put myself in her shoes.

As I find myself living in fear, sin, anxiety, stress, or simply falling short, I often think of Mary. God trusted her with such an important task…a role most of us could never even fathom taking on. We all know the story {Virgin Mary, engaged to Joseph, she was probably not much more than 12 years old at the time, and she was made pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit to give birth to the Son of God}.

I picture Mary being so perfect, so flawless, so far above me. What I often forget is that Mary was just a normal girl who listened to and obeyed God’s commands. One of my favorite quotes from the book states this concept so simply:

“God didn’t choose Mary because she was unique. Mary was unique because God chose her.”

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I love Luke 1:28 when the angel Gabriel says “…you who are highly favored!” Can you imagine an angel of The Lord telling you how special and important you are in God’s eyes? While you may not have any angels or people telling you that, it is true. The Latin for that verse is gratia plena, which means “one who has been filled with grace.”

To truly understand how beautiful that is, you must know how overwhelming and powerful God’s grace is. To be filled with this grace implies that it wasn’t always there 100% of the time by Mary’s own doing. Mary was an ordinary, natural girl who was made into an extraordinary and supernatural woman because she had such great faith in God.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary…”
-Luke 1:30

I love that God identifies our fears and reminds us that we have nothing to fear at all. But what I love even more about Mary is that she listened. Mary was surely initially shocked, shaken up, and confused. Who wouldn’t be? But even so, this young girl gave birth to Jesus, the son of God, who changed my life, your life, and everything about our lives forever.

“What made Mary worthy of her calling was not her virtue; it was God’s virtue.”

The question for all of us really is: if we truly believe nothing is impossible with God, what must we do to embrace that reality? What elements in our life feel too hard to handle? Mary offers such a measure of hope for all of us women, because she overcame fear, anxiety, change, and was entrusted with the greatest responsibility.

Today as you celebrate Christmas with your family, opening gifts, grabbing the stockings, don’t forget what a miracle it is that Jesus was born. That God sent His son to do life with us. And don’t forget how God used a normal woman like Mary to lead a legacy and steward such a huge role. How can you step out in faith this Christmas and allow God to use you for His kingdom?

{The photo below is me hugging Jesus outside of the candlelight service at church. I can’t wait to really wrap my arms around him someday, and to feel his arms hold me right back.}

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